Basic Distinctions

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Grass is grass is grass… or is it?

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Color and Other Important Characteristics

The first characteristic people notice about your lawn is color.  There are many variations on the theme of green, from bluish gray to apple green.  For uniformity, you need to consider color when combining different grasses so they blend well.  Check for color descriptions on seed labels. When in doubt, ask your Cooperative Extension Service (CSREES) or a local nursery manager.

Another important characteristic is a turf’s density, which refers to the number of leaves or shoots growing in an area.  A healthy and mature cool-season lawn averages six to eight turf plants per square inch.  In the north, finer-leaved grasses, such as Fine fescues, generally produce denser, uniform lawns.  In the South, bermudagrass and zoysiagrass exhibit high-density growth.

You must also consider shade when choosing grass.  Fine fescue, the most shade-tolerant cool-season grass, still needs two to four hours of direct sunlight a day.  Shade-tolerant grasses also require different management than sun-loving species.